Betty Edwardes, who with her husband, the photographer David Edwardes, ran the Lighthouse Photo Shop on Newtown Lane in East Hampton Village for some 20 years, died at home in Windsor, Calif., on Feb. 21 of the complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was a month shy of her 90th birthday.
Mrs. Edwardes, who grew up in Montauk and witnessed the 1938 Hurricane, was known for her storytelling — embellishing for dramatic effect, her family wrote. “She could make selling film sound like a childhood dream.”
“Family was Betty’s greatest love, with treasured friends a close second,” her family said. “She loved to entertain whether it be her delicious corned beef and cabbage dinner or sharing a pot of coffee and an Entenmann’s New York Crumb Cake.”
Born in Freeport on March 20, 1924, Mrs. Edwardes was the oldest child of Carl Darenberg and the former Catherine Cecelia Goetz. Her life as a fisherman’s daughter and photographer’s wife was full of adventure. The story was told that her father, while rum-running during Prohibition, tried to escape from a patrol boat, thinking he was going to be arrested, but the officers were really trying to tell him of her birth, which was premature.
The Darenbergs moved to Montauk in 1932, but that fall, the family of six, which included Mrs. Edwardes’s three brothers and their dog Skippy, packed up Mr. Darenberg’s 38-foot charter boat, the Fortenate, and sailed south for winter fishing. “At times they were one of only two families on the water during those long months,” her family said. They once gave a stranger headed to Florida a berth on their boat, learning later that he was a German spy.
Mrs. Edwardes attended the Montauk School, Palm Beach (Fla.) High School, and East Hampton High School, from which she graduated. Her early jobs were at the Shagwong Tavern and the Surf Club, both in Montauk. She said that working at the club near the ocean as a cabana girl in the 1940s was her favorite job. During World War II, she helped her mother run a U.S.O. in Montauk, as well.
She and Mr. Edwardes were married in 1947 at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk. The couple opened their first photo shop in Montauk, where Johnny’s Tackle is today. They moved the business to 54 Newtown Lane in 1955, making their home in East Hampton, first on McGuirk Street, then on Cooper Lane, where they raised four children. Activities in those years included 16-millimeter film shows, sleigh rides on a frozen Three Mile Harbor, and station wagons full of neighborhood kids going to the beach.
After moving to East Hampton, Mrs. Edwardes was active at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, serving as president of the Rosary Society and playing a major role in fund-raising for the construction of its grade school on Meadow Way.
The couple sold the photo shop to John Reed in 1964, and moved to Grand Junction, Ohio, where they also went into the photo business. They took up skiing, camping, and fishing there. In 1972, Mr. and Mrs. Edwardes, and their youngest daughter, moved to California. They lived in Cotati for 15 years in a house their eldest son helped build. Mrs. Edwardes continued to work in retail at Carithers Department Store.
Mrs. Edwardes’s other lifelong interests were gardening and singing. She also loved the New York baseball teams as a youngster, but became an Oakland A’s fan.
The family moved to Windsor, Calif., in 1990, and Mrs. Edwardes retired, caring for her husband, who by then was ill, and a granddaughter. Mr. Edwardes died on Dec. 3, 2000. She also became the “neighbor-watch grandmother of the cul-de-sac,” her family said, and was a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and of the Madonna Sodality of Windsor.
A Mass was said at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Windsor on Feb. 28. Mrs. Edwardes will be buried in East Hampton at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery.
Her children, Chrissie Edwardes of Windsor, Tom Edwardes of Montauk, Barbara Spaulding of Auburn, Calif., and Dave Edwardes of Santa Rosa, Calif, survived her, but Mr. Edwardes died two weeks later of a heart attack. His obituary will appear in a future edition. She also is survived by seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and a brother, Richard Darenberg of St. Augustine, Fla.
Memorial donations have been suggested for two organizations in honor of two of her grandchildren, Velo-Cardio-Facial-Syndrome Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 12591, Dallas, Tex. 75225 or That Man May See, 10 Koret Way, Box 0352, San Francisco, Calif. 94143.
Before his death, her son Dave asked that her obituary end with this: “If you had met our mother, you would have really liked her, and she would have liked you.”